Sunday, March 16, 2014

State Testing and Hands-on Science

State Testing....  If you are a teacher those two words bring up a plethora of thoughts to mind.  This week was my fourth graders' second week of testing.  MATH.  Yikes!  I remember the good old days when I could remind my students to use paper and pencil, show their work, take their time, take a break, etc.  Now... no communication!  The only words allowed are "Do the best you can.".   And it doesn't really matter what you say to those wonderful kiddos before they hit the testing room, they are going to do what they are going to do and you can't say a thing about it.

You can cringe as you see them, with no pencil or paper, clicking through the test.  You can scream inside your head when you have a student finish in 15 minutes.  You can want to cry when a student you know is capable just really doesn't see the point in this testing business and just misses the meets score by two points.

But then you have that one student who struggles in math class,  diligently work out every single problem, take 3 whole days to complete the test, be the last single student left in the computer lab, and an EXCEEDING score pops up on her screen.  That's when the happy tears come... that's when she looks at you with eyes wide and surprise lighting up her face, that's when you get goosebumps and pride shoots out of your heart for her.  That was the highlight of my week!

I just needed to share that with you... let's move on the the FUN!

To balance out the stress of testing week for my students, we started our new science unit:  Force, Motion and Design.  The students have been looking forward to it for weeks.

This was a complete science unit that I had funded through DonorsChoose and Chevron.  It is amazing!  Students are learning about force and motion by designing cars to meet different challenges.  This was our first week and students had to work with their team and design a vehicle in less than 20 minutes that would travel 100 cm.  A lot happened in that 20 minutes.  Students had to work as a team, figure out how the Knex pieces worked, test, figure out how to get it to move, etc.

It was interesting to see how some groups struggled with teamwork, some students who struggle in areas stepped up with their Knex and construction experience, how teams had to problem solve when they got stuck.

I wish I could show you my kiddos' faces!  The expressions on them are priceless!

The second challenge was to draw a two view drawing of their cars and then they had to break their cars up and BUILD a new car using a technical two-view drawing.
 That is about where we left off this week.  Another thing I love about this unit is that it is not only science focused, but students keep a journal of their work and illustrate their experiments, integrating art and writing.

So, it has been an interesting week full of ups and downs.  Here are a couple more highlights:
A gift from a student.. brightened up my day!

Students working on Topic vs. Purpose lesson.  Click here to be taken to my TpT store to see the complete product.

I got my hair cut...  No, this isn't me.  :)

I posted my latest product to my TpT store: Allusions to Greek Mythology Poster Set.
I'm currently working on an Allusion Mini-Unit.  I'm hoping to get it out this week!  
Thank you for visiting!  I hope you'll come back next week!

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